Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Saltanat Liebert

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Gooden

Third Advisor

Dr. David Webber

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Archana Pathak


Constitutional equal protection values serve as social integration policies for new Americans and generations that follow. They promise equal opportunity, fair treatment, protection from unlawful discrimination, and freedom to preserve cultural identities in their new communities. However, in times of national security crises and political polarization, the disjuncture in the way equal protection doctrines have been historically implemented often reflect deep-rooted inequities that impact underrepresented communities. American Muslims are one such community in which members have experienced anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment particularly after 9/11 and political polarization on immigration and civil rights policies. The study explores the equal protection doctrine as a mitigator to these challenges. Utilizing a mixed-methods case analysis, this study examined social integration experiences of Muslim students in public institutions of higher education and the impact of administrative civil rights practice on social integration. The study revealed that while educational institutions have started to administer civil rights through a more holistic lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Muslim students with diverse immigrant experiences continue to rely primarily on in-group student support systems to find a sense of belonging, valued identity, cultural citizenship, and sense of safety from anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment on campus. The study suggests that students’ lack of trust in institutional support systems is a primary factor that impedes cohesion between students and their institutions. The researcher proposes that civil rights administrators are bridge builders who through embedding systemic trust-building initiatives can lead their institutions to advance meaningful integration of students on campus.


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